Danville Express

Newsfront - May 4, 2007

Neighbors urge 'no' on CPC teen center

West El Pintado church plans to go ahead with facilities expansion

by Jordan M. Doronila

A church plans to move forward in building a teen center despite hearing a crowd of livid residents voice their opposition to the Danville Planning Commission last week.

Approximately 70 to 80 neighbors convened at the commission's study session at Danville Town Meeting Hall and expressed their dismay over the Community Presbyterian Church's plan to build a new teen center at 222 W. El Pintado Road.

"Our main concern is the traffic," said resident Debbie Bowron. "It's already a problem. The traffic is excessive. I have a lot of respect for the church. It's already crowded."

"It's about balance in this community," she added. "We just don't want it in our neighborhood. It's like country in our neighborhood."

Nonetheless, CPC will continue with its goal.

"We plan on going forward with the application," said the Rev. Scott Farmer, senior pastor for CPC. "It's for teens, youth and children. We are trying to expand facilities."

The church is requesting an approval to attach an 18,770-square-foot youth center to the south side of one of its existing buildings. It also wants to add 112 additional spaces to its 330-space parking lot to accommodate the new center. The church currently has a sanctuary, business offices and a school from kindergarten to eighth grade on its campus.

CPC has a satellite church on Camino Tassajara near Blackhawk, which meets at Diablo Vista Middle School. Also, it has a daughter church in San Ramon called the San Ramon Presbyterian Church, which is a separate congregation. CPC volunteer and development expert Bob Rodde said CPC currently has 2,400 to 2,500 members, is growing and has maxed out its facilities.

"It's been very much a community asset," said Rodde. "We are here basically here to listen. We have been working for quite some time."

CPC officials said the El Pintado location is the best place for the teen center because of its proximity to downtown Danville.

Residents living near CPC said church activities have caused traffic congestion in their neighborhood.

The majority of commissioners agreed with the residents' sentiment.

"How big is too big?" Commissioner Robert Storer asked CPC representatives. "It gets to a point you've got to listen to the neighborhood. You clearly have outgrown your facilities. I'm not comfortable to have the neighborhood suffer for your growth."

"This is a gigantic business," he added. "You can't be everything to everyone. I think a youth center is great - not here."

"Probably this plan is too much," said Commissioner Bob Nichols.

Commissioner Robert Combs agreed.

"I sense a little bit of arrogance because this is church," Combs said. "I don't think the community is behind what you're doing. You need to find some location in San Ramon."

Commissioner Steve Condie, whose children participate in CPC activities, said traffic is an issue and improvement is needed.

"This is a problem," he said. "It's two good things that come into conflict with each other."

CPC has been in existence in Danville for almost 150 years. It started its church in 1865, and in 1954, moved to its West El Pintado location, Rodde said. During the 1960s, the church developed offices for fellowship and in 1979, it built a new sanctuary.

In addition to its school, it conducts church services, job outreach programs, Bible classes and other activities. It hosts Prime Time, a nondenominational gathering for seniors from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. each Tuesday.

Three years ago, CPC submitted a significantly more aggressive growth plan that included a new 1,500 seat sanctuary, a structured parking lot over the existing lot, and several other major additions for administrative and classroom use, town staff said.

Subsequently, CPC withdrew its application, in 2004, and made changes to accommodate as best as it could to the town and neighborhood needs.

"I'm really concerned," said neighbor Gary Soto. "I'm asking the Planning Commission to deny this once and for all."

However, Pastor Farmer said the community in general has seen an expansion of school facilities and parks.

"We are remedial to the growth in the community in serving the spiritual needs of the community," Farmer said. "We as a community need to realize how many schools we have added.

"We want to be good neighbors and effective contributors to the community," he added.

Have an opinion about this issue? Post your comments at our Town Square Forum at www.DanvilleWeekly.com.

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